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UAE fatwa council head Abdallah bin Bayyah 'removed' from Islamic conference line-up after backlash

Abdallah Bin Bayyah will not be speaking at this year's RIS conference [Screenshot]

Date of publication: 2 December, 2020

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Muslims around the world had protested against Abdallah bin Bayyah's inclusion in the conference, citing the UAE's targeting of Islamic organisations.
The chair of the United Arab Emirates' fatwa council will no longer be attending a global Islamic conference following a backlash over the cleric's perceived backing of the Gulf state's targeting of Muslim organisations.

Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, a prominent Mauritanian Islamic scholar and politician, was scheduled to speak the the annual Reviving the Islamic Spirit (RIS) convention on December 26-27.

Bin Bayyah is a regular speaker at the event, which is usually held in Toronto, Canada.

"Program Update: Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah will not be participating in this year's conference," RIS said on its official Twitter page.

"We pray that the first RIS virtual conference  provides an uplifting experience, as far removed as possible from the trials of our times, to enter for a few brief days into a shared space of lofty ideas and inspiring heights," the post added.

The New Arab reached out to RIS to clarify whether Bin Bayyah had withdrawn from the convention or had been disinvited, but did not receive a response at the time of publication.

The announcement comes just days after the UAE branded the Muslim Brotherhood a "terrorist" organisation - a move that was slammed by Muslim organisations and leaders around the world.

This was announced in a virtual meeting led by bin Bayyah, just months after a similar decision by Saudi Arabia.

Years earlier in 2014, the UAE designated Islamic Relief Worldwide - the charity which organises RIS - as a terrorist organisation.

Such moves were cited by Imam Khalid Latif, a prominent American imam, in his withdrawal from the RIS conference earlier this week.

"Over the last few years, there have been a lot of dangerous positions from UAE-based councils that have named individual Muslim leaders and organisations like ISNA, Islamic Relief, and CAIR as being linked to terrorism," Latif said in a Facebook post announcing the move.

"The most recent fatwa that Shaykh Bin Bayyah's UAE Council issued deeming the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation simply adds to an already problematic geopolitical agenda," Latif added.

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